That was easy!

So here I am, running El Capitan.

It is faster in some things. My computer is very busy updating system data, specifically the spotlight data and the online backup. It took a long time to do the upgrade but I gotta hand it to Apple, their stuff tends to work.

So now I’m going to start exploring. I like the new system font.

Hopefully this new OS is as stable as I found Yosemite to be.

I may well regret this…

OSX El Capitan

But I’ve got backups.

Yeah, There’s a new OS X afoot and as I type this it’s downloading to my computer.

Many claims have been made about this iteration of the OS, I’m hoping just a few of them are true.

One of the claims is that the your computer will seem faster. Well I suppose that it actually could be faster because the OS isn’t as computationally intensive. This update is a mostly “Under the hood” kind of update. I’m looking forward to the new Metal features. Metal is supposed to put more of the rendering into the GPU and free up the CPU for other tasks. Fine by me!

If I can get another couple of years out of my computer I’m a totally happy camper.

I’ve backed up all my data, Freed up a memory stick, and done all the checking I can, to make sure this is a smooth upgrade. 

Fingers crossed and all that! 

On the other hand… If this all goes to hell in a hand basket I’ve got a fall back plan. Reload and restore. No, it’s not likely to be R&R but I’m up to the challenge.

This is going to take a while, the update is 6.08GB And I’m seriously damaging the monthly data allotment. On the other hand I’m downloading the update and sticking it on a thumb drive for later use by the other member of the house, and perhaps one or two clients that are afraid to click on “Upgrade”.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Briny Water on Mars!

Mars

This is very cool. The remote sensing work to confirm the hypothesis is elegant.

I wonder, if the hypothesis is actually proven, or do we only call it proven when one of our machines or a human takes a physical sample and confirms water and perchlorate salts.

This makes me wonder if future explorers could, as part of a water production facility, use the extracted salts as a component for fuel for the return trip to Earth.  I suppose it would depend on the source of the water (underground versus atmospheric) the exact composition of the salts and how easily they can be extracted. 

This discovery gives me hope that we will go to Mars, and that someday we’ll have self sustaining colonies there.

This is progress and perhaps this discovery will spark a whole new generation of scientists.

Yes, I’m a geek, I love science and NASA!


Marvin

I also learned something else during this morning’s announcement.

Under no circumstances should you monitor the Twitter #askNASA hashtag during the announcement of a discovery.

You’re suddenly exposed to a planet full of (paraphrasing Marvin here) “depressingly stupid people.”

Honestly, some of the questions were so stupid as to actually cause brain damage, which is a mercy since the damage occurs in the hippocampus and effectively erases the memory of the question instantly.

The effect leaves a trace of revulsion and disgust, which I suspect is the brain’s way of preventing further assault,without having to process the stupidity again.

The Keeper

In my case I shut down Twitter and the feeling passed immediately.

What was it The Keeper of Talos IV said? “Punishment and Reward, you’ll find it’s an effective combination.

Reward your favorite Scientist with a hug or compliment today.

Sleepless night

First Coldof the season

I think I’ve got the first cold of the season or yet one more thing is blooming that has my sinuses trying to kill me.

I was feeling so puny last night that I went to bed around 9:30. I’m laying there listening to some music and just drifting off when the sweet, but dumb as a post, dog decided to step over the dog that has been recovering from a hip sprain, and start panting in my face.

I tell him it’s OK and expected him to go on his way. He didn’t, instead he laid down in a spot that I’m surprised could accommodate his fat ass. I wonder if dogs somehow manage to warp space when they lay down.

That doesn’t follow. If they climb onto the bed with you, then they somehow manage occupy the entire bed. Humm maybe it does track, maybe the rule is they occupy all available space in a given area regardless of the volume of that space.

I start another album playing and start to drift off again.

The other half comes to bed about 11. I start to drift off again. Snoring erupts from the other side of the bed. It’s 11:15, a few well placed jabs in the ribs and a rough approximation of silence prevails. Then the sweet dog starts farting. 

Snake Oil

I swear I could bottle that stuff. Dr. Carney’s sure fire sinus opener and paint remover. 

But in addition to the farting, he’s gone all OCD on licking and rattling the closet door in the process. Then the snoring starts from the other side of the bed again!  It’s 11:25

Okay! I’m awake! Unfortunately, I’m also spun up. There’s no going back to sleep for a while. And I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck with body aches, and a jackhammer of a headache.

They say if you’re awake and can’t go back to sleep, you should get out of bed and do something constructive until you’re ready to sleep. 

MartyMcFly Guitar

“Okay, well the house does need to be vacuumed. I’m behind on my guitar practice, I could practice that Metallica riff I’ve been trying to master,” picturing Marty McFly in Back to the Future.  I think to myself, “That’s just me being cranky.” 

I instead tried to write a blog post which ended up in this mornings trash. Trying to write when you’ve got a headache that makes you wonder if the movie Scanners was for real and if you’re currently being scanned, is a really bad idea.

Scanners

Suffice it to say that the trash is too good for that blog, it should’ve been completely erased from existence at the moment of creation. 

So here I am, awake this morning, feeling better although my sinuses are still pissed off.

The sweet dumb dog is trying to make it up to me but he clearly doesn’t understand what my problem was. Nor should he, he was just being his normal sweet self, the problem was all mine and there wasn’t anything he could have done to help. (Aside from perhaps sleeping on his cushion with his behind pointed toward the open sliding door.)

I did finally get some sleep. Eventually, I laid down on the bed in the spare room and drifted off.

I’m having a second cup of coffee and trying to decide what I want for breakfast.

I think I’m taking today very easy.

You’ve gotta be kidding me!!!

200px Taleo Symbol

I’ve written before about a job application processing system called Taleo.

I’ve not commented too much on the system itself because at the time I thought it was something specific to Cybercoders. Even after I realized that many other companies were using this abortion, I didn’t comment because well, who has time?

Simply put… Taleo is awful!

I don’t know what syphilitic, drunken, rabid, howler monkey, put that system together but they should be put out of everyone’s misery.

Instead of having you create ONE login on their system and then allowing you to designate which potential employers have access to your stored data. Then having the site ask for  whatever ancillary information the employer might request, it appears you’re required to create a new Taleo login for each employer with whom you’re applying.

The practical upshot is that you can spend your entire day playing around with Taleo fighting through poorly designed, seemingly endless questionnaires.

HP71B

Back in the olden days, I’d create a resume and cover letter, then look in the newspaper, write a list of names and addresses of companies I was going to send my resume to and spend the morning tweaking 10 or 15 resume / cover letter packages.

I’d print it all out, fold the resume and cover letter, stuff it into an envelope and mail it. I’d also have a nice organized list of who I’d applied to and where. Typically I’d work it out so that if I had interviews, they were scheduled in the afternoon. My system was nice, organized, simple, and for the most part, it got results.

For many years I maintained a database of companies in my field with the names of hiring managers and / or HR representatives. When I found myself at contract end, or laid off, I’d go home, fire up the computer update the resume, then print out 100 – 200 resumes to be put in the mail the next morning. That was before I even tried looking at the newspaper.

HP Thinkjet

Oh and by the way, the first system I did this on was an HP71B and HP ThinkJet printer. Yeah, my first resume that wasn’t produced on a typewriter was produced on what was essentially a glorified calculator running BASIC on a 4 bit processor. I did have the Mag Card Reader so I could have multiple versions of my resume and cover letter stored offline.

The printer was one of the first inkjet printers. In my configuration It ran on the old HP-IL interface.

Ok so I’m a GEEK! But at the time the 71B was what I could afford, and honestly, that machine gave me great service for many years. It’s still around here somewhere having survived many trials and tribulations.

Now days, I’ll get 8 to ten applications out on a really good day.  

It’s not uncommon to spend 45 minutes to an hour uploading my resume and cover letters only to have to correct each and every item that Taleo so helpfully parsed from my resume.  

Then there are the mandatory fields which must be filled out, even if you have no data for that field and often N/A isn’t allowed. Filling out the additional web data can easily add another 30 minutes because the requested information is so poorly presented and the rules underlying the forms are amateur at best.

Indian Call Center guy from Transformers

A classic example is this:

The form asks “Are you a Veteran?

You click the button that says “No”

Instead of deactivating ALL subsequent questions about veteran status, are you a medal holder, were you wounded, which war(s) were you active in, The form makes you say “No” or “None” or “I’m Not X,Y,Z”

It’s these things that make a Software QA person NUTS! Bad design, bad implementation, bad presentation, and error reporting that loops ya back to the page with no explanation about what the hell is wrong.

This is, in my opinion a direct result of outsourcing. However that’s another blog positing and I think I’ve covered it already.


Insanity Einstein

Yesterday though was an all time high (or low) depending on your point of view.

After filling out a 15 web page application, (one of the questions listed 17,645 possible answers but wouldn’t allow you to search) I finally got to the last page of the application gauntlet. And there I ran across something I’ve never encountered before.

Insanity Freud

A 22 page PDF explaining Binding Arbitration which I had to confirm I’d read. Followed by a three page Binding Arbitration agreement wherein I signed away all my rights in this, or any other reality, timescape, dimension, universe, afterlife, or reincarnation. (I exaggerate a little. The agreement is rendered null when you die.)

Mind you, I still haven’t gotten past the application phase of this particular ordeal.

I’ve signed Non-Disclosure agreements prior to an interview. I get that, since during the interview some company secrets may be revealed.

This arbitration thing is a whole new level. But they’re not done yet. After all that, they want you to take a survey for some tax information they need. 

All of which leaves me wondering if I want to apply for their job in the first place.

It also makes me wonder what the hell they’re so afraid of? I’ve filled out similar paperwork after being hired.

I don’t like it as a condition of employment, but with the ability to register my dispute over various items on the form in writing, I’m usually ok with binding arbitration agreements.  I’m not OK with a mandatory agreement as part of the application process.  How many people desperately seeking a job, have signed their rights away without reading the documents? 

Interview Line

The problem is, between the Taleo website failing with Safari and the time I’ve got invested in their damn application process I feel like I should complete the process.

I’d like to know if this guarantees that I’ll get an interview with a hiring manager? After all the last 28 pages of their application process is all about them, I should at least be rewarded for my time and effort with an interview.

I’ve filled out applications for bonding or security clearance that weren’t as involved at this company’s job application.

In those cases I had the job. In this case there are no guarantees that they’ll call me, or even tell me to go to hell.


storm

My experience yesterday was the perfect storm.

Dealing with Taleo makes the application process far more difficult than it needs to be.  HR departments placing unreasonable demands on applicants with legal forms, surveys, and questions which must be answered, but which no-one will ever look at, plus the usual EEOC information about race, color, ethnicity, and gender, combine to create a very off-putting application experience.

On the plus side of things, I’m noticing far more diversity in the application software.

For the better part of a year every job application took me to Taleo. That’s not happening so much now, instead the sites are cleaner, more direct and actually get down to business which is to allow you to apply for the job the company is offering.

Honestly, the moment I’m employed… I’m going to trash the 300 or so Taleo logins my poor browser has been keeping track of. 

That will be a day of celebration!  It’s a pity, I can’t as easily wipe all traces of my resume and personal information from those hundreds of accounts and employers.

Damn, I wish I thought of this when I was a kid.

At first I was in complete disbelief about the Texas school acting like they had a 14 year old bomber

Then this picture showed up, and I was sure that not only didn’t they have a bomber, the texas school district and police also didn’t have a “Whiz Kid” either.

I Call BULLSHIT!

Clock

The large RED rectangle is a standard LED. Available in almost any digital alarm clock

The little square in the foreground is a standard transformer.

The greenish rectangular board is a production quality wave soldered board. (The kid didn’t make this). And the kid didn’t do any of the soldering 

There’s a long board between the transformer and the what I take to be the main logic board. This appears to be a control board, most probably for buttons and switches required to set and control the clock.

The 9V battery connector is, I’m betting for a backup battery.

Sorry, this kid didn’t build anything. He gutted a standard cheap bedside alarm clock, then mounted the parts in a small box.

BIG DEAL!

clock1

The kid didn’t solder one thing, he didn’t etch those boards, he didn’t create or build anything. It even looks like he kept the plastic strain relief on the A/C cord.

Initial reports said he showed this to a shop / or engineering class teacher. 

I don’t care if the teacher was unable to identify this kludge, surely the teacher recognized that there’s nothing explosive here.

The question is what was the kid trying to do? Was he trying to impress the teacher for some reason? If the teacher was in fact an engineering teacher SHAME on them for not recognizing they weren’t looking at a kit or homemade circuit boards.

I’m looking at a photo and easily see the evidence of manufacturing and standardization. 

It’s probable the original mechanism looked a lot like the photo at right.

Just because the mess is electronic it doesn’t mean that the kid is a genius!

Now this kid’s getting job and college offers and being invited to the White House!

Really? 

If I’d only known, I’d have splayed a computer across a briefcase and gone to MIT on a full scholarship years ago.

Don’t misunderstand, I applaud the kid’s curiosity.

He should be encouraged to learn how to really build electronics and put stuff together.  I saw one twitter account that offered the kid some “Educational electronic kits”. That’s constructive…

People falling all over themselves, gushing about simple transplantation into a new case is not.

There’ve been several articles reporting that the school, due to it’s Zero Tolerance Policy, had no choice but to report “Suspicious” articles students bring to school.

So, everything that followed from the point of him showing the device to a clueless teacher, was programmed by a policy based in absolute mindless following of rules, instead of common sense. Which means that the kid’s arrest  was not about race or religion, it was simply procedural. I generally hate Zero Tolerance policies, in this case, perhaps the policy highlights an issue.

Apparently there is more to the story now.

The kid is changing schools, it seems that his father is a sometimes candidate for the presidency of Sudan, and a constant voice in the narrative about islamophobia.

All of which calls into question this whole event.

I don’t believe for an instant that the kid did anything creative here. I wonder if he was just trying to rattle cages. Reports say that he was told by the “Engineering” teacher not to show this around. Okay, why didn’t that teacher simply say “Hey, leave this here with me and pick it up at the end of school.”  That would have solved any number of problems, but it also would have required that the teacher accept responsibility.

Oh yeah, in this world, acceptance of responsibility is strictly forbidden.

My Bad!


Since I started writing this piece there’ve been several other pieces written which have debunked the narrative of “Brilliant Whiz Kid.”

I also find myself unable to refrain from pointing out the rather large elephant in the room.

In the Middle East IEDs are commonly built from re-tasked devices.  Is it Islamophobia to point that out? Is it Islamophobia to say the school may have acted properly and with caution?

Originally, when the first reports were blaring across the airwaves, I though “Oh God, Texas you’ve got to be kidding” 

Now, I think the school, and LEO acted completely within reason.